Posts for January 2009

National Film Board of Canada's New "Screening Room"

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The National Film Board of Canada launched Screening Room last week. The site hosts over 700 films produced by NFB, which are now available for streaming and sharing. During the span of their 70 year history, the National Film Board of Canada have been a major force in independent Canadian cinema, underwriting a number of forward thinking documentaries, animations, and short films. NFB have been especially supportive of experimental and emerging film practices, a fact that becomes apparent when perusing their collection. (More recently, the organization began supporting moving image on other platforms as well. mobiDOCS: Confessions in a Digital Age, co-produced by NFB, is a series of short documentary films made especially for mobile phones.) See below for a few choice selections from Screening Room.



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AFC on ROFLcon

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Following our coverage of ROFLcon last week, blogger Paddy Johnson posted today about the absence of female speakers in the internet culture conference's program. She observed this shortage a few weeks back, and co-ordinated with artist Steve Lambert to stage a performance/lecture during ROFLcon on Saturday to call attention to this fact, in which Lambert presented a fictitious Firefox application which would remove the presence of women from the internet. In order to avoid this sort of unfortunate scenario in the future, Paddy called on her readers in her post to submit suggestions to Jen Bekman's ongoing list "Women Speakers for Your Conference." (And, thoughtfully, she added three Rhizome staff members to that list.)

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Rose Art Museum Closes

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After 48 years of operation, the Rose Art Museum announced that it would close by summer and sell off its collection, which is especially strong in twentieth century American art and includes over 6,000 works. According to sources, Brandeis University decided to close the museum in response to economic strains brought on by the recession, and the institution hopes the auction of their collection will help them out of a $10 million dollar budget deficit. I was unable to find a press release from the museum directly addressing the situation, but the news comes from the Boston Globe and the LA Times. The Rose Art Museum, directed by video art scholar Michael Rush since 2005, has hosted a number of wonderful exhibitions over the years, notably Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art which included artists such as Jill Magid, Jim Campbell, Kristin Lucas and Harun Farocki, whose work we've covered in some depth on Rhizome.

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Beacon (2009) - Chris O'Shea and Cinimod Studio

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Beacon at Lightwave 2009 from Cinimod Studio & Chris O'Shea on Vimeo.

From the artist's statement:

Beacon is a kinetic light installation with a mind of its own. An array of emergency beacon lights interacts with visitors, tracking their movement through the space, creating an immersive and playful experience.

The installation exploits a transfer of technologies from existing industrial products. The beacon lights have had their internal parts replaced with custom hardware, enabling the rotation of the reflector and lamp brightness to be individually controlled. Thermal imaging cameras have been adapted to track the participants' movement through the space.

Beacon is orchestrated in real-time by a bespoke control system, which uses tracking information from the cameras to coordinate an interactive and highly responsive behaviour.

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Removal Studies (2008) - Michael Kontopolos

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From the artist's statement:

"Removal Studies" are a series of videos made using time-lapse photography. These videos are sleep studies that observe the reaction of the unconscious body to the negative stimulus of removing the covers. The covers are removed by a machine that attaches to the bed and tugs a slight amount off in increments throughout the night. By studying the sleeping body, my aim was to capture something very honest and very animal about human beings. I was interested in this gesture of removal -- and subsequently, exposure -- and how it could function as a larger metaphor.



More work by Michael Kontopoulos

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Reaping What You Sow

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Image: Victory Gardens Starter Kit

Artist/designer Amy Franceschini's newest project updates an old idea with continuing social resonance. Her Victory Gardens initiative is an effort to get people growing more of their own food, "for increased local food security and reducing the food miles associated with the average American meal." Not unlike Cat Mazza's Stitch for Senate project, which draws on WWII-era programs to keep people calm about the war and supportive of the troops abroad (in this case, through "charitable knitting"), Franceschini's project spins paranoia about food security and emergency preparedness into a creative community-building strategy. In collaboration with the San Francisco-based organization Garden for the Environment, Victory Gardens facilitates the growing of shared local gardens in the name of urban sustainability. The idea germinated in 2006, when Franceschini made it the focus of her SECA Award installation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Growing the venture in new directions each year, in 2007 a related book featuring essays by Lucy Lippard and Mike Davis was published by Gallery 16. This year the art project blossomed from a city unification initiative into a full-fledged social networking site! The Garden Registry is an interactive map of "food production zones" through which other victory gardeners can connect with each other, share tips on working organically, and contribute to "an important portrait of land use." The site launched this week and is calling for participants to upload their information. Meanwhile, Franceschini offers potential Bay Area gardeners a tricycle-delivered Starter Kit to get growing. As outlined online, the accoutrements and their delivery mechanism perfectly resemble the spirit of other projects by Futurefarmers, the art and design collective founded by Franceschini with the goal of "making work that is relevant to the time and space surrounding us." - Marisa ...

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Welcome to my Modern Fantasy (2009) - Eilis McDonald

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Infinite C (2008) - Stewart Smith

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Infinite C is a suite of four-second songs composed in C major and played back in random order.


This browser-based sequencer accepts Play and Pause commands at four second intervals, indicated by an occasional music note icon. Open multiple copies on one machine or open copies on multiple machines at once.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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average photographs study (2008) - kitschpatrol

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Every day, flickr deems 500 photographs from its database "interesting." Each frame of this video represents the average of one day's 500 interesting photographs. In series, the video frames document each day's average interestingness between July 1, 2004 and July 1, 2007. This video is a study for a larger-scale, interactive representation of similar data.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Interview with Graham Harwood

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Telephone Trottoire is a publishing system for communities to share news, stories, and opinions over the mobile phone. The system dials members of the Congolese community and plays them a recording in the Lingala language. The recording might be a story, song, or joke, or it could be a discussion of a serious issue. The recipient of the call has the option of leaving a comment in response or forwarding the call to someone else, allowing the system to grow virally. It was developed on behalf of Congolese communities in London by MediaShed, a 'free-media' organization based in Southend-on-Sea, England.

At 01SJ 2008, three artists Graham Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji (formerly Mongrel ) presented Tantalum Memorial, an art installation based on Telephone Trottoire. This same installation will be on view at the art and digital culture festival transmediale in Berlin this week. Tantalum Memorial is one of eight projects to win the transmediale 2009 Award. I met up with Harwood at a Peet's Coffee in San Jose last June to discuss these two projects. He wore a hat with the word 'ADDICT' emblazoned across the front (his son's) and ordered an herbal tea. - Michael Connor

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